Listening at Lost Nation

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Shouting comes easily. Listening does not. Especially in February 2017.

Today’s Washington Post offers an exercise in listening to the real-life, on-the-ground voices of Iowans who voted for Donald Trump – who they are, why they did, and how they view him one month after his inauguration.

Click HERE for the story as told by Jenna Johnson who listened to ordinary folks in beer halls, barber shops, meat-processing plants, and places like the Pub Club in Lost Nation.

Does the piece have a bias? Of course it does, but it asks the questions and reports answers we otherwise might not hear. It begins:

“Tom Godat, a union electrician who has always voted for Democrats, cast his ballot for Donald Trump last year as ‘the lesser of two evils’ compared to Hillary Clinton.

“He’s already a little embarrassed about it.”

The point of view is biased. but it’s not fake. For those of us who are deeply troubled and unable to understand the results of the 2016 election, this reporter’s reporting of the real-life views of real-life people offers insight not available in the silo within which we live most of the time.

“On the other end of Clinton County is the tiny town of Lost Nation, where the president received 66 percent of the vote. On Wednesday night, a couple dozen local farmers and union guys gathered to play pool at the Pub Club, situated amid downtown storefronts that once contained a funeral home. (Beer is chilled where bodies were once stored.)”

Only by listening will people such as I begin to understand what happened last November and gather wisdom from beyond our silos to sustain us through this cold winter when soul food sometimes seems so far away.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 27, 2017.

 

What every New Yorker knows about Donald Trump

For a good dose of both truth and humor, click What every New Yorker knows, a Washington Post piece about the presidential candidate whose name we ruefully deign to mention.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 22, 2016.

Warren, Mandela, and Truth

This morning’s Washington Post ran the story “Think tank’s criticism of Elizabeth Warren’s populist policies leads to Democratic feud”. Click HERE to read the story.

The story runs the day after the death of one of the world’s great leaders who turned his vision into reality in South Africa: Nelson Mandela. It was reading the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and biographies of Gandhi that Mandela became the voice that changed Apartheid.

Reading the online “comments” on today’s Washington Post article about Senator Warren led me to leave my own comment, as follows.

Elizabeth Warren rankles the feathers of all who have yet to see the insidious assault of crony capitalism on the integrity of a democratic Republic. Right, left, and center thinking people in this country recognize we have a VERY serious systemic problem that required redress. Think tanks, like political parties themselves, belong to the people who pay their bills. Senator Warren does not work for a think tank, and does not work for the Democratic Party. She represents the people with conscience, clarity, and boldness that cut to the quick. That’s to be applauded. Dismissing her as an unrealistic idealist is also to dismiss Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and, particularly apt for today, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu who saw something better for their societies.

Chime in with your views.

Trayvon Martin and the Hoodies

The Washington Post updates the story of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida with an interview with Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.

Family picture of Trayvon Martin“Martin and Fulton said they are moved by the outpouring of support from people across the nation. They said they were particularly touched by  the actions of Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), who on Wednesday donned a gray hoodie and sunglasses and spoke from the floor of the House of Representatives about the need for a full investigation of the death.

“I applaud the young people all across the land who are making a statement about hoodies, about the real hoodlums in this nation, specifically those who tread on our law wearing official or quasi-official cloaks,” Rush said on the House floor.

“Racial profiling has got to stop,” he said. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.”

As he spoke those words, he removed his suit jacket and lifted the hood over his head. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), presiding over the floor as Rush delivered his remarks, began to gavel almost immediately. Shouting over Rush, who began to recite Bible verses, Harper said the congressman was out of order for donning the hood. Rules bar House members from wearing hats in the chamber. Rush was then escorted from the floor.

Race and hoods in America never go away. Hoodies have a long history. Sometimes those who wear the hoods wear them by choice; sometimes the hoods are put over their heads. Occasionally those who wear them are ushered out while they recite Bible verses…or sing a hymn, like the 38 Dakota men hanged in a mass execution following “the Sioux Uprising,” as they called it then in 1862, at  Mankato, Minnesota.

Douglas A. Lindner provided this eye-witness account in The Dakota Conflict Trials:

In Mankato, at ten o’clock on December 26, thirty-eight (one person was reprieved between the date of Lincoln’s order and the execution) prisoners wearing white muslin coverings and singing Dakota death songs were led to gallows in a circular scaffold and took the places assigned to them on the platform.  Ropes were placed around each of the thirty-eight necks.  At the signal of three drumbeats, a single blow from an ax cut the rope that held the platform and the prisoners (except for one whose rope had broke, and who consequently had to be restrung) fell to their deaths.  A loud cheer went up from the thousands of spectators gathered to witness the event. The bodies were buried in a mass grave on the edge of town.  Soon area doctors, including one named Mayo, arrived to collect cadavers for their medical research

Last night a Lakota friend filled out the story. According to Wally Ripplinger, the men on the gallows were singing a Dakota hymn, as they had done throughout the day. They were singing in unison, under their hoods, of their impending release into Paradise. It might have sounded something like this. Click below to listen.

I cast my vote with the Dakota and Lakota singers, Trayvon Martin, the lynched victims of hooded Klansmen, and the rebellion leader (mis-labeled by tradition as “the thief” – he was not a thief!) executed along with Jesus, who heard the words of divine mercy that would be remembered long after a Roman public execution: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Religious Parade: Unreal and Real

Click HERE to read and view the photos of religion on the campaign trail in Michael Gerson’s opinion piece in this morning’s Washington Post. Comment below to generate the discussion her.  But…before you do…ponder Steve Shoemaker‘s “The Donkey”  sent to me this morning in preparation for Palm/Passion Sunday.

THE DONKEY (A Children’s Verse)

The coats the folks are throwing down

sure make it hard for me to walk

especially carrying this clown

whose feet are almost to the ground.

“Hosannah King!” is all the talk,

but this guy seems to be as poor

as I am–no one could mistake

him for a Royal–he’s just a fake!

They wave palm branches, and they roar,

but my long ears can hear the real

parade across the city square:

the General, the Priests, the score

of war horses–the whole grand deal.

This pitiful parade will fail

to save a soul, and soon the yell

will change from “Hail!” to…”Kill!”

Climate Change reflection

Today’s Washington Post breaking news announcing that the U.S. will be one of five nations leading the way on limiting methane and soot (see earlier post with link below) prompts me to re-publish Climate Change commentary on “All Things Considered” (MPR.org) – personal reflection on a day with Earl, the old oyster fisherman, on the “Skipjack” on the Chesepeake Bay.

Washington Post Story on Climate Change

A Washington Post story on Climate Change reports this breaking news:

“With global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions stalled, the United States and five other countries are starting a new program to cut other pollutants — including methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons — that contribute to global warming.

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to announce the five-year initiative Thursday morning. Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Ghana and Bangladesh are also participating. The plan will be administered by the United Nations Environment Program, with a $12 million contribution from the United States for the first two years. Canada will add $3 million; contributions from the other countries are not known.”

It goes on to report, “Paul Bledsoe of the Bipartisan Policy Center noted that, in the United States, efforts to reduce methane and soot are far less politicized than efforts to reduce carbon dioxide. Even one of the most vehement congressional opponents of limiting carbon dioxide emissions, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), supports cutting soot emissions. Senator James Inhofe (R, OK), supports cutting soot emissions.”

I have to remind myself to celebrate small steps. This is one of them. My hope and prayer is that Senator Inhofe’s acceptance of scientific evidence supporting action on methane and soot will be one small step toward a saner discussion of global warming. I just asked the question of the Washington Post whether they know why Senator Inhofe is convinced by the scientific evidence re: methane and soot, and, likewise, what scientific evidence convinces him that we do not need to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Anybody know?

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